Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Centenary …

… His Bleak Materials | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Deliberately regional and focused on a celibate minority within a Catholic minority, his elegant and subtle fiction is universal and enduring, his characters both commonplace and exotic. One priest, paternal as well as fatherly, puts on a comic apron, turned outside in, to make breakfast for the old monk who’s celebrating the early Mass; another idly uses his Roman collar to practice putting on his bedroom floor; a third vests himself in a “white fiddleback chasuble” regrettably spotted with ink when the pastor had shaken his fountain pen. Priests form a secretive fraternity closed to outsiders, yet are exposed to the prying eyes of their housekeepers and parishioners. At the bottom of the hierarchy of power that stretches all the way to Rome, curates in isolated parishes yearn for promotion; priests, struggling against loneliness, boredom, and sloth, try to reconcile the spiritual and material worlds. Commenting on his choice of subject, Powers said: “I write about priests for reasons of irony, comedy, and philosophy. They are officially committed to both worlds in a way that most people officially are not.”

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